To consider a proposal to assist in the delivery of affordable homes and meeting housing needs within the district and increase the supply of affordable housing.
Note – In accordance with Section 100B(2) of the Local Government Act 1972, copies of Appendix 1 to the report are excluded from inspection by members of the public as it contains information as described in Schedule 12A of the Act, as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006, as follows:-
Paragraph 3 - Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).
Councillor Helen Chaffey – Housing Portfolio Holder introduced the proposal for the Council to purchase the land at Heversham to be able to deliver on creating affordable homes. This will assist in meeting housing need within the locality and surrounding area as well as increasing the supply of affordablehousing.
It was noted that the site proposal provides an opportunity to deliver an exemplar in energy efficient homes with a view to replicating this across the District.
Cabinet were asked to consider the recommendation to purchase this land in Heversham at market value for delivery of affordable housing in the future. The money used for the purchase would come from the capital receipts from RTB sales. A further report and feasibility study will be brought back to Cabinet for approval which will detail the various options available to the Council for delivery of affordable homes which are exemplar in energy efficiency.
It was highlighted that this was viewed as a great opportunity for the Council to prioritise housing needs for South Lakeland. The proposal would assist the Council in the delivery of affordable housing through the use of the Right to Buy replacement scheme monies. In addition, the proposal would work towards the delivery of affordable homes that will contribute towards the Council’s housing and communities target to deliver 320 homes every year across the District through the purchase of a suitable site and assist in the potential delivery of energy efficienthomes.
Councillor Chaffey described the work that has taken place to enable this scheme to progress; to acquire the land and to get the money earmarked for the project. Councillor Chaffey thanked officers for the extensive work done so far to reach this point.
The Chair thanked officers for the extensive work and described the project as an exciting development that works towards meeting Council aspirations. The need for more affordable homes was highlighted and that this would provide a positive intervention. The possibility of this site delivering exemplary, green sustainable homes was welcomed.
Councillor Bingham noted that this proposal would help towards restoring the social balance in the area, relaying concern that there is a lack of young people in the village and provided an example that there are no children currently attending the local church, highlighting that more affordable homes and community facilities are required. The principle objections noted by local people to this project were that there may be added cost implications to the build due to the limestone base under theland.
Councillor John Holmes queried what would happen following purchase of the land. Would the Council enter into an agreement with a housing association? The Chair confirmed that the next steps are yet to be determined.
Councillor Jarvis added that seeking to increase affordable housing and ownership of land is very important for delivering on affordable homes, ensuring that the land ownership stays in this area and SLDC’s remit. It would enable the creation of high quality affordable homes which are needed as a priority in the area.
Councillor Webster noted that more land is needed for projects like this, highlighting difficulties with accruing land for affordable housing. It was recommended that the Council needs to improve communications and to articulate that this is the way forward with external stakeholders and partners.
The Chair noted that better collaboration is needed between various organizations to protect public sector sites and to reserve them for potential development and should not be purely focused on obtaining best value but to protect social outcomes. The Chair agreed that the public sector needs to work harder on this area to enable more affordablehousing.
RESOLVED – That:-
(1) approved the purchase of land at Heversham as detailed in the report;and
(2) Delegated authority to the Director (Customer and commercial Services) in consultation with, the Portfolio Holder for Housing and Portfolio Holder for Democracy (Monitoring Officer) to purchase the land as detailed in the report, entering into the appropriate legal agreements for the transfer of the site at Heversham.
Reasons for Decision
This will mean that the Council will deliver affordable homes once the site has been purchased.
This will assist in meeting housing need within the locality and surrounding area as well increasing the supply of affordable housing.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
Members could decide to not pursue any proposals for use of the Right to Buy Replacement Fund for the purchase of the site at Heversham at this time, however, this is not recommended as the opportunity to use these funds to meet housing needs in South Lakeland could be lost.